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Start 2021 With Intention and Meditation

It's the holiday season … so much to do and such little time. No wonder it can be stressful for many of us. What do I do to ease the stress – other than the occasional cocktail?

I meditate.

It's easy and it doesn't cost anything. Almost every day, I spend a few minutes in meditation. It calms my nerves and restores inner peace. A lot of people may think they don’t have the strength of focus when meditating, but they do. Sometimes I have difficulty focusing, so if I can do this anyone can. With continued practice, you will see improvements in your ability to maintain focus and stay calm.

One great thing about meditation: You can practice wherever you are. Whether you are out for a walk, riding the bus, waiting at the doctor's office, spending time with your kids or pets, or even in the middle of a difficult business meeting on Zoom, meditation moments are available. No equipment, TVs, laptops, or phones are needed. All that’s required is your presence.

The best benefit I get from meditation is how it focuses my attention and eliminates the stream of jumbled thoughts crowding my mind. It clears my head and gives me the ability to just be in the present. This is helpful for my overall well being, both emotionally and physically.

An ancient practice, meditation was originally meant to help deepen understanding of the sacred and mystical forces of life. Now, meditation is commonly used for relaxation and stress reduction. It is even considered a type of mind/body complementary medicine and has many benefits for daily life. I often find it helpful for these daily stressors and/or needs:

- Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
- Increase my self-awareness
- Focusing on the present
- Reducing negative emotions
- Increasing imagination and creativity
- Increasing patience and tolerance

While mediation isn't a replacement for traditional medical treatment, it may be a useful addition to other treatment for the following conditions:

Anxiety
Asthma
Cancer
Chronic pain
Depression
Heart disease
High blood pressure
Irritable bowel syndrome
Sleep problems
Tension headache

Some types of meditation:

Guided Meditation: Where you form mental images of places or situations you find relaxing

Mantra Meditation: You silently repeat a calming word, thought or phrase to prevent distracting thoughts.

Mindful Meditation: Having an increased awareness and acceptance of living in the present moment. Here you broaden your conscious awareness. You focus on what you experience during meditation, such as the flow of your breath. You can observe your thoughts and emotions. But let them pass without judgement.

Qi Gong: This practice generally combines meditation, relaxation, physical movement and breathing exercises to restore and maintain balance.

Tai Chi: This is a form of gentle Chinese martial arts. It involves deep breathing, postures, and graceful movements.

Transcendental Meditation: This is a simple, natural technique. You silently repeat a personally assigned mantra in a specific way. 

Yoga: Most people know what this involves. You definitely have to exert more energy here, which has multiple benefits of stress reduction and exercise!

It’s OK to mix meditation techniques to find the method(s) that work for you. I combine yoga and mantra meditation for my own personal mix. It takes me 10 to 15 minutes. I find a nice quiet place, like my closet (where no one can find me). Before starting, I apply Starling’s Sleep Balm on my temples and hands and under my nose. I breathe in the amazing and calming scent and then I stare out the window, sit legs crossed, and I listen to my breathing, repeating a phrase or word that sounds nice to me. Sometimes I may have stray thoughts that come to mind while I am in the midst of a session. When that happens, I focus on my breathing. That always clears my head.